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NZX CLOSE: Shares mixed; NZO, miners fall, Telecom lifts

Monday 22nd March 2010

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New Zealand shares were mixed, with Pike River Coal and New Zealand Oil & Gas weakening as India’s surprise interest rate hike weighed on commodity prices. Telecom Corp. lifted from its lowest level since the early 1990s.

The NZX 50 Index rose 2.89, or 0.1%, to 3233.29. Within the index, 21 stocks fell, 13 rose and 16 were unchanged. Turnover was $48.9 million.

Pike River Coal (NZX: PRC ), which has made its first export sales of coal from its South Island mine, fell 2.2% to 88 cents. New Zealand Oil & Gas dropped 0.6% to $1.56.

Resources stocks fell across Asia today after the Reserve Bank of India unexpectedly raised its reverse repurchase rate and repurchase rate, with Governor Duvvuri Subbarao saying that controlling inflation was “imperative” to the world’s second most populous nation. The move stoked concern the global recovery will be knocked back as nations begin to tackle resurgent inflation and remove their stimulus programmes.

India’s rates hike “reminds people what lies a few steps ahead,” said Angus Gluskie, who manages US$300 million at White Funds Management. “As we see inflation spiking up, be it India or China, we’re likely to see monetary policy reactions and potential for growth to pull back.”

Hallenstein Glasson Holdings (NZX: HLG ), the clothing retailer, shed 3.9% to $3.46 after going ex-dividend for its 14 cents a share interim payment.

Auckland International Airport (NZX: AIA ), the nation’s busiest gateway, fell 2.1% to $1.91 and is up 5.4% in the past month. International passenger volumes rose 4.6% to 551,086 from February 2009, according to the airport’s monthly traffic statistics.

“If the world feels wealthier, they’re going to travel more,” said Paul Robertshawe, who helps manage $750 million at Tower Asset Management Ltd. He said New Zealand benefits from its proximity to Australia, which makes a trans-Tasman flight shorter than some domestic routes. “New Zealand is usually the cheapest option, which will be swinging their decision.”

Rakon (NZX: RAK ), which makes crystal oscillators used in navigation systems and mobile phones, rose 4.4% to 96 cents, the biggest gain on the NZX 50 today.

New Zealand Refining (NZX: NZR ) gained 3.7% to $3.90 as investors await the outcome of talks between Infratil and Shell New Zealand to buy the oil company’s downstream assets, including 17% of NZR.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances (NZX: FPA ) gained 1.7% to 61 cents.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ), which has declined 15% in the past three months, rose 1.4% to $2.14, edging up from the lowest level since the early 1990s. Among the company’s catalogue of woes is the loss of earnings over the next three years from the government’s changes to the funding of uneconomic phone lines and the fall-out from a series of faults on its XT network.

Tower (NZX: TWR ) fell 2.5% to $1.94 and Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) declined 1.3% to $6.05.

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